Comprehensive Rural Development Programme: Departmental briefing, Committee Report and Minutes adoption

Rural Development and Land Reform

09 May 2012
Chairperson: Mr S P Sizani (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR) briefed the Committee on its work in relation to infrastructure development, largely carried out through the National Rural Youth Services Corps (NARYSEC) Youth Empowerment Programme, the Technology and Research Development Programme and Rural Disaster and Mitigation Services. The work had begun with pilot projects, but there were now infrastructure programmes running in 83 wards, with a focus on the 23 prioritised district municipalities. DRDLR had managed to create over 15 000 jobs, including NARYSEC, and these included establishing food gardens and training in gardening skills, financial management, community based planning and other areas. About 658 cooperatives and Councils of Stakeholders had been established. The numbers of youths participating were outlined, and the NARYSEC skills training programmes included construction, animal and veldt management, farm ranging, record management and disaster management. 44 communities were involved in conservation agriculture technologies, to make more sustainable use of natural resources and improve food production. Indigenous Knowledge Systems (IKS) was another area being developed and research focus. Three rural disaster mitigation projects were implemented and over 500 jobs were created for social relief, with another 30 for training of communities. The main challenges included coordination across other sector departments, and challenges in institutional capacity of communities. The Comprehensive Rural Development Programme (CRDP) phases were described, and this project was now moving to second and third phases. The Department also indicated its financial performance and expenditure, including that where there was co-funding with Department of Agriculture and other partners. The budget for rural development was R783.6 million in 2011/12 and was set to increase further. NARYSEC’s unaudited figures showed spending of R378.9 million.

Members asked what criteria were taken into account to select people for inclusion in the Department’s programmes, asked how many jobs were created and questioned whether there would be more focus, in future, on ideal figures and on those who were working well. They asked about the relationships and work with other departments, which schemes were targeted for revitalisation, how crops were chosen, and called for more detail on the irrigation schemes. Members also questioned how the households were profiled, how the wards were decided upon, and asked questions also about allocation of tractors and the hectares that were to be cultivated by each. Members felt, in general, that better figures and comparisons to budget were needed. Members also wanted specifics on the youths in KwaZulu Natal, particularly those who had been involved in gathering data, and suggested that they should be given specific training. The Department was asked to revert with more details on the training colleges and enrolment figures. Members also felt that more training should be provided to the Councils of Stakeholders, and commented that in some areas they had visited, there did not seem to be much uptake, although the Department said this was a question of timing and the facilities were now being used. Members also felt that there was too much focus on Gauteng. The Department was provided with a list of matters on which more elaboration was needed. Finally, the Members adopted minutes of past meetings, and the Report on the budget vote.

Meeting report

Comprehensive Rural Development Report
Ms Leona Archary, Deputy Director General: Rural Infrastructure Development, Department of Rural Development and Land Reform, gave a report on the Department’s work in the area of infrastructure development. This included the National Rural Youth Services Corps (NARYSEC) Youth Empowerment Programme, the Technology and Research Development Programme and Rural Disaster and Mitigation Services.

She noted, in respect of the programmes, that the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform (DRDLR or the Department) had begun with pilot programmes in eight provinces but were now operational in 83 wards, with a focus on the 23 prioritised district municipalities. The Department had managed to create 11 400 jobs linked to skills development, and 3 936 jobs in Infrastructure Development The total number of jobs thus created was 15 336, inclusive of NARYSEC. 3 258 food gardens had been established and 190 713 households were profiled, including those for the War on Poverty. 3 819 people had been trained in master gardening, household food gardening, financial management, community based planning, participatory rural appraisal and household profiling, arts and crafts, and indigenous seed production. About 658 cooperatives and council of stakeholders had been established. (See report for more information).

From the first recruitment of the NARYSEC programme, about 600 youths had graduated from various Further Education and Training (FET) Colleges in Western Cape. 500 youths reported for training at De Brug near Bloemfontein on 30 January 2011. The Minister of Higher Education and Training had promised funding and indicated that mechanisms were undergoing change, to be discussed with the responsible official from the Department.  In Free State, 358 youths started training on 1 February 2011 and further events took place on 1 March and 1 April 2011. This year more youths had been recruited for training. She noted that the NARYSEC skills training programme included construction, animal and veldt management, farm ranging, record management and disaster management.

In Conservation Agriculture, 44 communities had been involved, since 2011, in the implementation of innovative Conservation Agriculture Technology (CAT) for sustainable natural resource utilisation to improve food production.

In relation to the Indigenous Knowledge Systems, (IKS) issue awareness campaigns were held in Limpopo, North West and KwaZulu Natal (KZN), to educate rural people on the value of preserving and protecting IKS, as well as its commercial value. 26 communities were using IKS. An audit was conducted in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North West, KwaZulu Natal, Northern Cape, Western Cape, Free State and Eastern Cape on existing appropriate technologies and IKS initiatives. Research on commercialisation of IKS products was also conducted and a report was now available.

In terms of Rural Disaster Mitigation Services (RDMS), three main projects were implemented, comprising  training of vulnerable communities, social relief and establishment of disaster management help desks. There were over 500 jobs created for social relief and 30 jobs for training of communities.

The main challenges faced by the Department were coordination across sector departments, both national and provincial, to ensure integrated delivery and reporting, as well as the need to ensure graduation from Phases 1 and 2 of the CRDP model. There were some challenges in institutional capacity of communities to drive development and governance issues.

Ms Archary emphasised that the Comprehensive Rural Development Programme (CRDP) was divided into three phases, comprising, in turn, Basic Needs, Enterprise Development and Rural Industrialisation. There were enormous resources put into the first phase of providing for basic needs, to meet the challenges of unemployment and poverty, so there was a lot done on initiatives for food security and provision of basic services like water and sanitation. DRDLR had now made a conscious decision to move into the second and third phases of this programme.

Ms Irene Singo, Acting Chief Financial Officer, DRDLR, briefed the Committee on the financial performance of the Department, focusing on the expenditure for three main categories of Rural Development, Rural Infrastructure Development and Social, Technical, Rural Livelihoods and Facilitation. In some provinces, the programmes were co-funded with CRDP and the respective provincial governments.

The initial budget for the Rural Development programme, in 2009, was R721 million, but this continued to increase, having reached R786.3 million in 2011/12 and further increases were expected. In respect of the Rural Infrastructure Development branch, she noted that the initial allocation of R2 million was small because the programme had started part-way through the financial year, but for 2011/12 the particular allocation was R79.3 million. In the Social, Technical, Rural Livelihoods and Facilitation branch the goods and services expenditure started at R32.2 million in the 2009/10 financial year, and rose to R127.4 million at the end of the 2011/12 financial year.

She also explained that for projects where DRDLR had partnered with other institutes to implement programmes, the expenses were recorded as Non Profit Institutions or Public Corporations and Private Entities. (See document).

NARYSEC’s preliminary figures showed that to date the programme had used R378.9 million, but these figures had not been audited. A budget projects analysis was being done, and more detailed reports could be presented.

Nkosi Z Mandela (ANC) questioned the criteria used to take people into the Department’s programmes, and asked how many jobs had been created. He pointed out that stakeholders in some areas were not aware of people being employed by the Department. It seemed there was more work being done in some areas, whist in other areas nothing was being done. He wondered who was really championing the development in the rural space. He also questioned what the real relationship was with the Department of Public Works and other departments, and asked what were the main areas of priority when the Department entered into an area.

The Department said that a project selection committee was set up, and determined those to be selected from a list of people to be employed. There were some challenges but these were being dealt with, and in areas where the DRDLR did not have expertise, it would partner with other departments who did.

Mr J Van Der Linde (DA) asked which schemes were being revitalised and what was being done specifically. He wondered if the Department was going to continue planting wheat, pointing out that expenses were more than the yield, and wondered how that could be rectified.

Ms Archary said that five irrigation schemes were being set up. Two of the schemes were currently being fenced before they moved to the production phase, whilst the other three schemes were still in the business plan/proposals stage.

In respect of the crops, she noted that the Councils in the areas recommended growing of traditional crops, including wheat and maize. This decision was taken with input from the Department of Agriculture. A bumper harvest was expected, but there had been problems with the rain, and this had affected the harvest and the grade of wheat. There had since been a move to planting of soya beans and dry beans, and the output was good.

Mr Van Der Linde questioned the correlation of households profiled, and established co-operatives and Councils of stakeholders.

Ms Archary responded that the number of households and wards seemed to have no correlation because the council of stakeholders agreed to group the four wards in the municipalities. The average number of households per ward was around 3 000, so there were about 1 200 households.

Members questioned the logic behind the allocation of ten tractors in an area of about 400 hectares of land in Mpumalanga, and asked who made the determinations for distribution of tractors.

The Departmental representative responded that tractors in Mpumalanga were not used only in one place, and for 400 hectares only. The numbers needed were requested by the provincial Departments of Agriculture, who were also running programmes for CRDP. However, the DRDLR was struggling to get regular reports from the provincial departments on how many hectares actually were benefiting altogether from use of the ten tractors. DRDLR would have to take stronger measures if it did not get the reports.

A couple of Members questioned the usefulness of giving expenditure figures without the budget comparisons to get a better idea of what was happening.

Ms Singo acknowledged that there were some errors in the Report but noted that they would be corrected, and said that the DRDLR would be able to report back on budget and expenditure, per province.

Mr R Cebekhulu (ANC) questioned the total number of youths recruited from KZN, and the work that they were now doing now. He asked when those who had been doing data gathering for the province were recruited for the programme.

The Departmental representative noted that the figures for KZN were now included, and the problems that existed in that province had been resolved, and that more effort would be put into the coordination function

Mr A Trollip (DA) asked about the number of youths recruited for NARYSEC training from Pietermaritzburg.

The Departmental representative indicated that detailed figures were not available at the meeting concerning the numbers of youths taken for training in Pietermaritzburg, nor in which FET colleges they were enrolled in. It was, however, known that the training covered a two-year period. The FET colleges whom the Department was relying on to provide the skills did not come on board on time, and the initial training schedules were not met. The only alternative was for the youths to volunteer in any project that the municipalities were working on. The municipalities were also part of the recruitment efforts and the understanding was that they would take the youths temporarily, while they were waiting to undergo training.

Mr Trollip called for comment from the Department on the large numbers of people who got access to land, but ended up in the situation where only one or two were doing all the work and the others were doing nothing. He questioned how the Department would ensure that those programmes that started years ago became productive, or whether it was intending to arrange payments in such a way that a smaller and functioning group would remain in the actual programme.

The Departmental representative replied that in some areas people made contributions, but it could not address the issue raised by Mr Trollip. It was currently conducting a review on how best it could reduce the number of people, to ensure that those who remained were ideally placed to ensure maximum production on that land. There would be a preliminary report, which would be presented to the Minister, around how the scheme could be repackaged and the number of beneficiaries reduced. The Department announced, in the Medium Term Economic Framework Strategic Plan, how many projects it was intending to recapitalise. It had already attended to 595, and about 416 more were going to be recapitalised. The Department was trying to reach as many people as possible.

Ms H Matlanyane (ANC) thought that the Council of Stakeholders should be trained, so that nobody would try to take advantage of it. These were the people who must benefit through government initiatives.

The Departmental representatives confirmed that the DRDLR was intending to take the Council of Stakeholders through a series of training steps, one of which would develop the ability to read financial reports and project management. There was an ongoing project to build skills in these Councils. Part of the CRDP was geared to ensuring that people were empowered and capacitated.

A Member noted that the Committee had done oversight in some areas, and was not impressed with the progress of the work.

Ms Archary said that immediately after the visit by the Members, people then moved into the houses and schools. The schools were now fully occupied by learners. It was just an issue of timing. The clinics were just offering a day facility. There were certain standards used by the provincial government. Some of the facilities were owned by the communities, schools, or municipalities, and they were responsible for their management and upkeep. In future, DRDLR intended to develop these into actual enterprises that could be managed by the trained youth, to give them continued access to those areas.

Ms Matlanyane asked why only four provinces showed with a proper breakdown in terms of NARYSEC recruitments, asked what was happening in the other provinces, and commented that the numbers  of beneficiaries in Gauteng did not correlate with the numbers on the first page. She wondered if any of the 2010 initiatives were in fact being grown for the rural provinces, as there seemed to be too much focus on Gauteng.

Ms N November (ANC) also asked why some provinces were left out in the second recruitment, especially the poorest provinces.

Ms Archary said that these were the initial recruitment figures, and the second recruitment was still limited to Gauteng, but the process was still going on.

The Chairperson wanted to see the budgets for each province, as well as the spending and an indication of how resources were being distribute. He also wanted more detail on who exactly was responsible for upkeep and maintenance, the nature of the cooperatives, and the work that they were doing.

The Departmental representatives did not have details as to what the cooperatives were doing. They promised to come back with more details to the Committee.

The Chairperson advised the Department that the Committee was expecting an update, in the next report, on the following issues:
- How many of the schemes were “owned” by the Department, and how many were not, as well as an indication for each as to who was responsible for maintenance and up keep;
- More clarification was required on NARYSEC recruitments in the 83 wards in the 23 districts;
- The Department was required to brief the Committee on the nature and activity of the established cooperatives;
- More detail was needed on the nature of training that was being given to the Councils of Stakeholders;
- The budget and spending in each province was required. He noted that the Quarterly Report would also have to show the breakdown of spending for each programme, but for the moment the provincial figures in total could be provided;
- More information was required on the activities of the two productive irrigation schemes out of the five.

Mr Van Der Linde added that, in respect of stakeholders and the cooperatives, the Department must indicate how many were still functioning.

Mr Van Der Linde asked who was going to make the reports on the usage of tractors, and an indication of who was controlling those tractors.

Mr R Cebekhulu questioned what would happen to the youths who had already been recruited but had not received training. If KZN was to be included in the training, then he also wanted to know what would happen to the youth in the field just collecting data, and if they would be paid, and felt that they should be included in the training, so that they would undergo proper training, rather than getting in more people.

Mr Mduduzi Shabane, Director General, DRDLR, reported on the progress of the fraud case in the Department. He said the Special Investigating Unit was at the preliminary level of investigations, and had indicated that they would require another three weeks to gather the information. Hopefully, he would be able to report further when the DRDLR next met with the Committee.

Other business
Adoption of Minutes
Members approved the adoption of the Minutes of meetings held on 18 and 25 April and 2 May.

Committee Report Adoption
The Members approved the adoption of the Draft Report of the Portfolio Committee on Rural and Land Reform on Budget Vote 33, which had been amended during the previous meeting, with just one technical spelling correction. This Report would be tabled and debated in the House in the next three days.

The meeting was adjourned.


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